Utah basketball: Utes beat St. Martin's 91-45 despite free-throw struggles
Utah will practice Saturday morning. But instead of the usual routine, coach Larry Krystkowiak will gather his players, give them the once-over and offer a simple directive.
"I'm going to tell them to shoot 100 free throws each," Krystkowiak said.
On some levels, foul shots are such an overlooked part of the game. That is until a team misses 21 of them, like the Utes did in Friday night's exhibition win over St. Martin's.
Utah was never challenged before 7,191 at the Huntsman Center, winning 91-54 over the Saints in its only tuneup before next week's season-opener against Evergreen State.
But there will be times when the Utes need to make crucial shots from the charity stripe. And for at least one night, they didn't seem too capable of doing that, going 24-for-45.
"We've got to shoot better than that," sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge said. "We can't just go up there and miss like we did tonight."
There were positives. Utah's athleticism and size on the perimeter overwhelmed St. Martin's, even if the Utes were small on the interior. Loveridge scored a game-high 21 points and added six rebounds to that total. Junior guard Delon Wright was brilliant at times, scoring 13 points, handing out eight assists and grabbing eight rebounds.
And the ball movement was crisp offensively, while Utah's man defense caused turnovers and discouraged open looks.
"I like what our guys did from an offensive standpoint," Krystkowiak said. "We were the aggressor and we got the other team in foul trouble as well."
The Utes put four guys in double digits. Sophomore Dakarai Tucker scored 12 points and showed off an improved stroke from 3-point range. Former East High star Parker Van Dyke scored all 12 of his point in the second half, clearly looking more comfortable than he did in the first 20 minutes.
Both teams struggled with the new NCAA initiative to limit hand contact defensively. There were 56 combined fouls called and 69 free throws taken in all.
Utah 91,Saint Martin's 54
O Jordan Loveridge leads the way with 21 points and six rebounds.
• Delon Wright flirts with a triple-double.
• Utah pulls away in the second half for the win.